The Soul Cluster: Reconsideration of a Millennia Old Concept (cont.)
By Ede Frecska, Levente Móró and Hank Wesselman
Surprisingly similar to this African soul concept is that of the Mongolian shamanic tradition that also considers that people have three souls. According to the Darkhad shamans, one soul comes from the maternal side (the soul that governs flesh and blood), a second is a bone soul from the paternal side, and the third soul comes from the Spirit World. The third one, the immortal soul transmigrates from the Spirit World to a fetus in the womb. After death, it stays for a short while in the body, then later, seeing the light, it moves back to the Spirit World and, eventually, transmigrates back into another baby.
In other parts of Mongolia, the soul form ami is held to be the soul that enlivens the body. It is related to the ability to breathe—in other words to the breath. After death it returns to the Upper World in the form of a bird (like the Ba of the Egyptians). During an illness the ami soul may temporarily be displaced, but it does not leave permanently until death. Ami may reincarnate among the relatives of the dead person. The suld is the most individualized of the human souls. It lives in a physical body only once; after death it remains around the body for a while, and then it takes residence in the Middle World. The suns soul, like the suld, also contributes to the formation of personality, but it carries the collected experiences of past lives. The suns reincarnates and stays in the Other World between incarnations, but may return as a ghost to visit friends or relatives. Among the two reincarnating souls, the suns usually bears the strongest past-life memories. The suns soul may also temporarily leave the living body and sometimes wander as far as the Lower World, which may require a shaman to negotiate for its return. This Mongolian tripartite soul concept clearly reflects the three-tier shamanic cosmology.
Throughout Siberia it is widely held that all humans possess at least three souls; some groups such as the Samoyedes believe there are more: four in women, and five in men. Not every author agrees on the concept of multiple souls. Shirokogoroff is skeptical of this notion: “I believe that in some instances of very multiple souls… we have the ethnographer’s complex, his creation and not that which exist in [the indigenous population’s] mind” (Shirokogoroff 1935/1982, p. 54). Some sort of deculturalization process adds to the confusion: Western influences and missionary assimilations have greatly adumbrated the soul concept of numberless tribes. Even so, the examples above suggest that humanity’s archaic culture – the hunter-gatherer culture – perceived the reality of the soul trinity over thousands of years, and the commonality, even perhaps universality of the tripartite soul concept is plausible. Like in the case of the shamanic cosmology: the three-tier view is the most common worldwide, despite numerous deviations (for example, the twelve-level worldview of the South American Yagua tribe).